Mercedes’ race strategist James Vowles explained how his team lost the race lead at the Mexico GP. In summary, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton qualified in the first starting row. However, Max Verstappen’s excellent start to the race saw him charge to first place after the first corner.
According to Vowles, Mercedes was counting on Bottas having a good start. Unfortunately for Mercedes, Bottas had a poor start and quickly lost his advantage to Hamilton and Verstappen. At that moment, Verstappen had all the space he needed to complete an overtake.
“For Valtteri, if he had a good start, he was going to let Lewis tow along behind him and make sure that he covered off that threat from Verstappen. Valtteri had a slightly worse start than both Verstappen and Lewis. Not a lot, about four meters or so, but it was sufficient that Lewis wasn’t able to tuck up behind.”
“More so, Verstappen’s start being good meant he was alongside Valtteri very, very quickly. The result of that is they ended up three wide incredibly quickly and early on during the run down into Turn 1. Now it was just a question of braking.”James Vowley, Mercedes’ strategist
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Bottas, Hamilton, and Verstappen were side by side, heading into the first corner. However, rivals ‘sandwiched’ Bottas, giving him a challenging position on the track. Most importantly, Verstappen had an outside line, allowing him a clean exit and the latest breaking point.
“Valtteri wasn’t on the optimal line and nor was Lewis. Even so, the differences in braking should have been a few metres, not perhaps the difference that you saw.”James Vowley
In conclusion, Verstappen comfortably won the race. On the other hand, Bottas had a troubled race and finished outside of points after the Turn 1 incident with Daniel Ricciardo. Lewis Hamilton finished second, just ahead of Sergio Perez.